In 2015, we distributed our $70,000 Privacy Good Research Fund to four different projects, all of which focused on finding new evidence about an aspect of privacy. Last month, that fund came to fruition and we had our Privacy Research Symposium, a day where the recipients of the fund presented their findings.
If you missed the symposium, don’t worry – all of the presentations are on our YouTube channel.
And here’s a quick rundown of the presentations as well:
Information sharing and high-needs clients
The Methodist Mission frequently works with clients who need support for a variety of different issues, so social workers often need to bring in a variety of specialists. This means that they need a clear understanding of the Privacy Act in order to make decisions about what information they can share, when they can share it and when they need consent to do so.
The Methodist Mission examined practitioners’ knowledge of the Privacy Act through surveys. The Mission found that practitioners did not have adequate training in the Privacy Act, and that they struggled to apply the privacy principles. It also found some mistaken beliefs, such as an idea that practitioners could share identifiable information as long as they redacted the person’s name.
The research recommended more training on applying the Privacy Act, and that organisations use their mandated privacy officer as the person to implement this training.
E-records and multidisciplinary healthcare
Electronic health records are playing an increasingly prominent role in healthcare provision. This study interviewed nurses to gauge attitudes towards electronic health records and privacy.
The key finding was that nurses – particularly rural nurses – are expected to use a wide range of software to do their jobs. However, the various applications all have different login processes and requirements. In order to do their jobs, nurses frequently create workarounds – and these workarounds (such as writing down passwords) create the possibility of a privacy breach.
Audience members suggested that this is not necessarily a problem with the users of the software, but rather with the software itself. Software needs to be designed with the users in mind – how they’ll use it, the barriers they may find, and how they may overcome those barriers.
The ethics of sharing
Lots of professionals, such as counsellors and medical practitioners, are told sensitive information about their clients. This puts them in a position where they have to make a judgement call; do they write down exactly what a client has told them? Writing down a piece of information increases the likelihood of a privacy breach, but it also may be relevant to other people who have a legitimate need to see it.
This study interviewed a number of social workers to find their attitudes towards recording information from clients. It found that social workers exercised a great deal of discretion in order to preserve client trust, but did write down anything that would be relevant. The study concluded that any new recording systems needed to be designed in such a way that social workers trusted those systems.
Parent-centred privacy framework for a safe cyber environment for children
Children are using the internet at very young ages. With this in mind, this project looked at how parents can keep their kids safe online while also giving them enough room to express themselves privately. This research went as far as to create a prototype of an application designed for monitoring children’s online behaviour, with features like a panic button that children can press to alert their parents that they are in trouble.
And more . . .